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How To Win At Pictionary: 15 Effective Tips / Tricks / Strategies

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

A game of Pictionary can be fun, causing much laughter and excitement. However, you’re here because you want to know how to increase your odds of winning the game. There are many tips and tricks for you to apply. We’ve put together a list of practical strategies for you to get working on the next time you play.  

1. Choose your teammates carefully.

If you’re able to choose your teammates, do so with strategy. It’s better to partner up with people you know. Partners, best friends, and siblings may share a close connection and be aware of identical terms only known to them. 

Some people may scratch their heads at your drawing, but when you have people on your team who understand what you are trying to point out, this will undoubtedly help your teammates. People who know you may know what you mean and see the direction in which your thoughts are going. Some people get you, you know? 

2. Don’t rush.

When others ask people to draw, they may get nervous, and when people are anxious, they tend to hasten what they’re doing. When speeding through a drawing, your lines and squiggles may not come out the way you intend them. 

Rushing causes you to make mistakes and doubt what you are doing while you are drawing. The secret is to breathe and sketch calmly and quickly. Take a few moments to think first, don’t always rush ahead.

If your thoughts are in a state of disarray, chances are your drawing will look confusing. By slowing things down, your picture may be better able to be interpreted by others. 

3. Don’t just assume everyone knows what you are thinking.

Everyone may be around you, but no one is in your mind. A concept may be simple and straightforward to you. Just because you know a term doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else around you knows what it is. 

For instance, if you are a baseball fan, chances are you know the jargon associated with that sport and may proceed to draw what you think is straightforward. Let’s take the word “shortstop” as an example. 

You may already know this as a position on a baseball field and attempt to draw this. But you could be paired up with teammates who know nothing baseball-related, and your drawing may be challenging for them to figure out. 

Instead, it would be better for you to draw a short person (you could draw two stick men, one short and one tall, and circle the short man) and then outline a stop sign. It is easier for people to get the word “short” and then “stop” and put it together than it is to get “shortstop.” 

4. Learn to separate words.

Don’t always attempt to draw the entire picture, as it may be a difficult task. Remember when you were small and couldn’t read long words? People taught you to break them down so you could read easily. The same concept applies here. 

Breaking the word down into smaller parts may be easier for your teammates to figure out. If you’re given the term “corndog”, instead of trying to draw a picture of a corndog, you could draw a picture of corn and then a picture of a dog. 

5. Don’t approach Pictionary as an art competition.

People who can draw do not have an unfair advantage. Pictionary is not a game to see who can draw but see how people can communicate a word/phrase using pictures within the given time limit. Sometimes a stickman works perfectly, instead of you drawing a perfect human figure. 

You’re not playing the game to show others your artistic sensibility. You’re trying to communicate with pictures. Even the artistic ones among us may not always be able to illustrate what they want to in a given time. Simple images that describe the word easily will do. 

6. Don’t waste time on intricate details.

Please don’t feel the need to draw unnecessary elements like patterns unless you know they will add value to your drawing. Your drawing doesn’t need to be art; it needs to be effective. Avoid wasting time on fluff.

Details may seem important to you, but your teammates are likely to guess what you’re drawing without the extravagant elaboration.  

7. Don’t make your drawings too small.

People further away from you need to be able to see what you are drawing. Keep this in mind when drawing. You don’t need to use all the space on the paper, but a sizable drawing will help others who are further away identify what you are drawing. 

It’s good to start with a fresh piece of paper for each round. It’s also a good idea to use a new sheet of paper if you’ve made too many mistakes on your current drawing and need to rethink a different picture. 

8. Don’t draw the exact thing over and over.

If no one understood what you drew the first time, chances are they will not get it even when you try creating the same thing over again. Rather stop. Rethink what it is you are trying to communicate and draw a different picture to represent your word.

What appears to be evident to you is not apparent to your teammates. Reconsider the word – is there a homonym you can draw or something else that can guide them in thinking along the correct path? 

9. Use a sharp pencil.

It may seem pretty obvious, but it is essential to check your pencil. Make sure your pencil is not blunt so you can deliver a good drawing. A sharp pencil will ensure you draw quicker and with ease instead of struggling. Don’t draw too lightly either; make sure your teammates can easily see your drawing. 

10. Always think first.

Don’t forget to think first before drawing. Thinking is more critical than the actual picture. It’s not enough to see something and then attempt to sketch precisely that. It’s far more valuable for you to see the visual image in your head first. Contemplate what will be the fastest way to explain something to other people.  

11. Don’t be a perfectionist; make it snappy.

While keeping calm, you need speed when drawing. Here’s where sketching comes in handy. Sketching is a technique used for getting ideas on a page quickly.

The power of sketching is in its speed – in how fast you can create it. It’s a very rough drawing, not intended to be artistic but intended to illustrate a concept much more effectively than words can. 

12. Practice sketching.

When you find yourself with a pen or pencil and some paper, don’t just draw that familiar smiley face. Try sketching something you wouldn’t normally do.

You could try creating Pictionary words that your teammates were not able to guess from your last game. You could even go as far as looking up standard terms used in Pictionary and draw the words that come up. 

13. Develop a bank of symbols you can use quite frequently.

It helps to have symbols that you know how to draw without thinking about them too much. You’ll become confident when you know how to illustrate your point. If you’ve memorized how to draw something, you’ve got that muscle memory there.

You’ll be able to do quick drawings without needing a reference picture. You can come up with a bank of pictographs and ideographs. In case you’re wondering what’s the difference:

  • Pictographs: these are pictures that represent the word. Pictographs include the drawing of a mobile phone when you see a mobile phone. 
  • Ideographs: these are pictures that represent an idea. For example, a lightbulb would represent an idea, or a heart would represent love. 

14. Don’t try guessing the other teams’ drawings.

Unless drawing is “all play,” which indicates that any team can win the round, you probably shouldn’t be guessing the opposing teams’ words. Many times players get so caught up in the game, calling out suggestions for the other team.

It is in your best interest to keep your guesses to yourself, even though it’s hard. You can always make your guesses when their time is up.  

15. Call out any suggestion that comes to mind.

Remember, there are no penalties for incorrect guesses. Don’t hesitate, and don’t be shy to call out answers – you may call out the correct answer or guide your teammates in thinking along the right path. By calling out words, you give the drawer direction as well.

Final Words

Whether you are the one drawing or guessing, there are numerous tips and strategies for you to try out the next time you play a game of Pictionary. Most importantly, don’t forget to start sketching and adding to that bank of pictures. Enjoy the game!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.